Fight on Common Core Education Standards Dividing Louisiana

Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 07:20 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision to go to court to end his state's participation in Common Core has led some former allies to break with him, The New York Times reported.

State Superintendent of Education John White, a Jindal appointee, is challenging the governor on the grounds that he has no legal right to pull Louisiana out of Common Core. The system sets reading and math standards — while not prescribing a particular curriculum — for pupils from kindergarten through high school, the Times reported.

The Black Alliance for Educational Options, which collaborated with Jindal on school vouchers and charter schools, is financing the lawsuit against him regarding Common Core. "This happens to be an issue where we vehemently disagree," Kenneth Campbell, the group's president, told the Times. "We have a saying: 'No permanent friends. No permanent enemies. Only permanent interests.'"

In June, Jindal said he would end Louisiana's ties to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which has been devising exams based on Common Core standards, the Times reported.

Critics accuse the governor of political opportunism. In 2010, he supported the state's participation in Common Core, but as a possible 2016 Republican presidential contender, they say he is playing to the tea party faction, which opposes the standards.

The Louisiana legislature and the state board of education have endorsed the standards, the Times reported.

"The governor seems to be unilaterally deciding, despite the democratic process that we've gone through, that he's going to ignore that," said board of education President Chas Roemer. "He changed his position politically and is finding administrative ways to exert his political opinions."

At least one opponent of Common Core in Louisiana also questioned the governor's approach. "If his intent was to stop it, it was very ineffective," said Jason France, who expects to run for the state board of education in 2015, according to the Times.

The contending lawsuits have resulted in confusion in the classroom. "We just keep our head down and keep doing what we're doing," math teacher Penny Gennuso told the Times, "until everybody fights it out and gives us a new direction."

Jindal has said that he backed Common Core when it was simply about raising standards for students, but turned against it when it "morphed into a scheme to drive education curriculum from Washington, D.C.," according to Politico.

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